By Elizabeth Barber

BOSTON (Reuters) - Massachusetts officials on Friday released video footage showing the near-fatal shooting of a Boston police officer last month by a man who was subsequently shot dead by other officers.

The decision to release the footage comes amid protests in several major U.S. cities over a series of killings of civilians in recent months. The latest occurred last Saturday when a white officer in South Carolina was videotaped shooting an unarmed black man as he fled after a traffic stop.

"It is in everyone’s best interest to share (this) information as soon as possible in order to tamp down speculation and rumors meant to inflame and not inform," Suffolk District Attorney Daniel F. Conley said at a news conference.

The video shows six-year Boston Police Department veteran John Moynihan and two colleagues approaching a car stopped at about 6:40 p.m. on March 27 in Boston’s Roxbury neighborhood.

As Moynihan stands near the driver's door, a man identified by police as 41-year-old Angelo West jumps out of the vehicle, shoots Moynihan in the face and runs out of the camera frame as Moynihan falls to the ground.

Authorities say West, who had a criminal record including prior gun charges, was shooting at police as he ran and that Moynihan’s fellow officers returned fire, killing him. 

Moynihan, 34, is recovering after surgery to remove a bullet lodged in his neck.

Local leaders at the news conference said that anger toward police over the incident was minimal.

"We need to be very aware that the work of police officers is indeed very dangerous," said Rev. Mark Scott, of the Azusa Christian Community in Boston’s Dorchester neighborhood.

He called West’s death "tragic,” but added that once someone pulls a gun on a police officer, "you don’t leave the police any other option but to respond."

The Suffolk District Attorney’s office is investigating the shootings and has said it will release a full report on the incident later.

(Editing by Richard Valdmanis)